Conference Preview: ACC

Conference Preview: ACC

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The ACC returns quite a bit of offensive heat in 2020, with three of their top four passers, five of their top seven rushers and three of their top five receivers all returning. That continuity should help these top options hit the ground running, and known commodities carry far less bust potential. And none of that factors in a top QB transfer heading to Coral Gables, where a new, high octane offense is set to debut. Big names should be flying off of draft boards nationally from this conference, but there's enough depth to provide value in conference-specific formats.

All-ACC Fantasy Team (2020 Ranking)

First Team

QB: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (5)

RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson   (2)

RB: Javian Hawkins, Louisville   (14)

WR: Sage Surratt, Wake Forest   (1)

WR: Tamorrion Terry, Florida State   (5)

TE: Brevin Jordan, Miami   (4)

Second Team

QB: Sam Howell, North Carolina   (6)

RB: Jashaun Corbin, Florida State   (26)

RB: Michael Carter, North Carolina   (40)

WR: Dazz Newsome, North Carolina   (10)

WR: Dyami Brown, North Carolina   (12)

TE: Tony Poljan, Virginia   (6)

Third Team

QB: D'Eriq King, Miami   (13)

RB: Jarveon Howard, Syracuse   (45)

RB: Javonte Williams, North Carolina   (46)

WR: Chatarius Atwell, Louisville   (23)

WR: Amari Rodgers, Clemson   (37)

TE: James Mitchell, Virginia Tech   (10)

Sleepers

QB: Keytaon Thompson, Virginia  (27)

Thompson hasn't won the starting job, and drafting him with visions of Bryce Perkins would be unfair. But the truth is the two have similar skill sets, and Virginia remains void of multiple playmakers, both in the backfield and out wide. Thompson's appeal will remain his rushing ability, and assuming he draws the bulk of the starts, he should return a nice value based on the draft capital it will take to acquire. A 27th ranking nationally may be aggressive, but he ranks seventh in-conference, speaking to the quality of ACC signal-callers. He could easily post similar numbers to Louisville's Micale Cunningham at a fraction of the cost.

RB: David Bailey, Boston College   (29th)

Bailey isn't A.J. Dillon, but he's proven he can be a workhorse when given the opportunity, going for 181 yards and two scores against North Carolina State, and 172 yards and two scores against Syracuse, carrying 16 times in both. With Dillon gone, the carries should be there on a weekly basis. There's infinitely more upside here than there appears to be with the Tar Heels' duo ranked above him.

RB: Jordan Mason, Georgia Tech   (72)

Until the Jackets find a quarterback, Mason will be the focal point of this limited offense. He's scored seven times in each of his first two seasons and averaged a solid 5.2 ypc as a sophomore. While a 1,000-yard season seems unlikely with an 11-game schedule, Mason's scoring stability makes him a nice, low risk, stable reward option to help balance your national roster late in drafts. The Jackets moved QB Tobias Oliver to corner and RB Jerry Howard to linebacker. Perhaps that's to give talented sophomore Jamious Griffin extra carries, but Mason's role seems as stable as they come.

WR: Joe Ngata, Clemson   (51)

This may fall into the Captain Obvious department, but Clemson needs options on the outside with Justyn Ross out of the year, and Ngata is the clear top choice. His listed 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame and five-star recruiting pedigree are in line with the Tigers' previous top wideouts like Tee Higgins and Mike Williams, and Clemson must replace 21 touchdown catches from a year ago without Higgins and Ross. Amari Rodgers is a safe bet for 50+ balls and a handful of scores, but he figures to operate out of the slot more often, leaving the vertical routes to Ngata and Frank Ladson. There's huge upside here.

WR: Mark Pope, Miami   (91)

This will be the Miami portion of this column, as I will openly admit to being a homer who is perpetually optimistic in early August. The reason for optimism this season comes in the form of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who will bring the spread offense to the 'Canes. The expectation is Miami plays fast, hoping to flirt with 80-90 plays per game. Pope is built similar to that of former SMU receiver James Proche, whom Lashlee made a fantasy stud in his two seasons with the Mustangs. Pope is a former five-star recruit who has struggled previously for opportunities, but appears poised for a breakout and will cost nothing more than a last round pick at this juncture. Dee Wiggins may be the safer play on the outside for the 'Canes, and given the volume of plays and D'Eriq King keeping defenses honest, running back Cam'Ron Harris should certainly garner attention as well, as SMU rushed for 35 scores last year.

WR: Taysir Mack, Pittsburgh   (75)

In 2018, Pitt had two 1,000 yard rushers and threw only 316 times in 14 games. Last year, they threw 513 times in 13 games (39.5 per game) while no running back going for more than 530 yards. The backfield committee returns, as does quarterback Kenny Pickett, so there's little reason to suggest the offense won't be a high volume passing attack again. What doesn't return is Maurice Ffrench, and his 96 catches from a year ago. Yes, Shocky Jacques-Louis will see an uptick, and is the bigger target outside and in the red zone. But Mack figures to absorb heavy volume vacated by Ffrench, giving him a real shot at 75-80 catches.

Busts

QB: Sam Hartman, Wake Forest   (25)

This is all about value, as I don't think Hartman is a bad quarterback by any stretch, and he's got some weapons outside of Surratt to the point where RB Kenneth Walker (61) and WR Donavon Greene (47) appear to be in great position to outperform their draft slots. But given the depth under center in the ACC, I'd prefer paying up for a sure-fire stud, or waiting and taking someone with rushing potential like Thompson above, or Virginia Tech's Hendon Hooker for a similar price. Nationally, options like Arizona State's Jayden Daniels or Auburn's Bo Nix feel much safer, and more matchup proof. If you can acquire Hartman as your QB2, that's tremendous. But if he's your QB1, a second quarterback acquisition probably needs to follow in short order.

RB: Zonovan Knight, North Carolina State   (73)

Knight surged at the end of 2019, garnering double-digit carries in four straight, topping 100 yards twice and scoring twice. The team's new offensive coordinator, Tim Beck, figures to build the 'Packs' offense around its strength, which is certainly the rushing attack. The problem comes in that Knight will be a piece to the equation rather than an exclusive carry monster. Ricky Person returns healthy after missing five games last season, and Jordan Houston figures to factor in as well. Knight is amongst the most talented backs in the league, but with one fewer game and a shared carries, it could be challenging to match his 136-745-5 line from a year ago.

WR: Tre Turner, Virginia Tech   (48)

2019 was expected to be a breakout for Turner, who had 535 yards and four touchdowns on 26 catches as a freshman in 2018. Instead, he saw 18 additional targets, which yielded eight additional catches, 18 additional yards, and the same number of scores. He did rush 24 times last year for 231 yards, so it's clear the Hokies want the ball in his hands, and no one questions his big-play ability. What is in question is the Hokies' general offensive scheme. They prefer to run misdirection and read-option schemes, and rarely trust Hendon Hooker to throw downfield. Seven times last season he had three or fewer catches, and it seems unlikely he'll be force-fed the ball weekly, making him incredibly volatile on a weekly basis, even with red-zone target Damon Hazelton transferring out.

WR: Ahmarean Brown, Georgia Tech   (NR)

A year ago, Brown was one of my favorite under the radar incoming freshmen to grab in ACC dynasty circles. He didn't disappoint, scoring seven touchdowns in this limited passing attack. But he did so on just 21 catches, finishing with 396 yards. I still love the talent, and a year from now, hope to go back to Brown as a sleeper. But until the Jackets gain vastly improved quarterback play, it's hard to see Brown's catch or yardage total increasing. He ran only once despite his game-breaking ability, making him heavily touchdown-dependent.

TE: Brevin Jordan, Miami   (4)

It pains me to write anything negative about my 'Canes, and based on talent alone, it's hard to argue Jordan as any other than the nation's best. But that hasn't led to huge production, and while some of that relates to quarterback play, a lot of has to do with Jordan's injury history. He's played in nine games in each of his first two seasons, catching 32 and 35 passes for six total touchdowns. He's a unique piece that Lashlee hasn't had in previous stops, so a breakout is certainly possible, but I'm personally only interested if he comes at a discount, which seems unlikely.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
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